Friday, November 02, 2007

A Zone 7 Gardener's Soul Trapped in a Weak Zone 5 Gardener's Body

I grew up and learned about plants, horticulture and landscaping in OH - definitely a Plant Growing Zone 5. I've lived in western MA for about four decades and more and more have claimed that I have a zone 7 soul trapped in a weak zone 5 gardener's body. Now, I will have a chance to prove it. Earlier this week, my husband and I moved into a condominium cottage nestled in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The move is not year 'round, but only for five winter months. We've become "snow-birds." Besides being fun and educational for me, the move means many more experiences to share with my readers. We've entered the land of contrasts:

  • Japanese yews (Taxus cuspidata) and arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) replace boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) and crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) in the cultivated landscape.
  • The traditional and somewhat down-to-earth landscapes of the New York – New England regions replace those originating from Williamsburg and Jeffersonian-style sophistication.
  • Winter weather in the Blue Ridge area is more moderate than that in western MA, and there is little snow and ice. This allows me much planting leeway to indulge my zone 7 soul. The ground is still warm and the location deer-proof enough for me to plant and enjoy tulips. I can luxuriate in new cultivars of hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) and Encore Azaleas®.
  • Instead of a garden almost one-acre in size, I have a small area suited for condominium-style living. The whole concept of landscape gardening is scaled down in such a physical setting.
And finally, I look forward to a glorious spring. Our general location is right where the northern and southern Blue Ridge Mountains meet - a location where populations of northern and southern eastern North American native plants merge into one large population. Here is another opportunity to realize a decades-old dream of pursuing plants I have only seen in specialized collections or fieldguide illustrations.

Stay tuned to read about all sorts of new and exciting discoveries.

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